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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:29 am
by Kevin Byrnes
I was rather excited when I read Jeroen Speybroek's recent report where he finds the Banded Newt Ommatotriton ophryticus as I believed they had all been removed from the site. I had always wanted to see this beautiful creature and so quickly booked a flight to Barcelona and hoped that I would also have time to find the Montseny Brook Newt Calotriton arnoldi . I had been cross referencing photos and location clues from articles, trip reports, other web sites and basically scouring Google earth and finally had a place to look. Unfortunately I broke my reading glasses and camera lens the day before travelling.
Wednesday May 8th
I landed in Barcelona and made my way to the Budget car hire office to collect the car I had booked, unfortunately it was shut despite them having my flight details etc. I walked out to the car park to their outside office which was also shut, two other couples were in the same situation and luckily the Sixt office was still open and soon everybody was sorted out with vehicles.
I then began my journey to a stream in the Montseny National park, I climbed higher and higher slowing down to let the occasional Badger and Hare cross the road. I came round one sharp bend and a group of Wild Boar piglets scattered across the road with one of them running straight into the front of my car. My first thought was whether the car was damaged, my second thought was the chance of a free breakfast but when I checked with the torch it had run off into the dark. Higher and higher and almost repeating the situation with a another group of Boar standing in the middle of the road, I passed a tight bend in the road and heard water. I still had a mile to go to my destination but parked the car and grabbed the torch for a quick look. It was a small stream coming down the slope in a series of small waterfalls and pools before disappearing beneath the road. It looked perfect, the water was crystal clear and the pools were full of Fire Salamander larvae. I slowly made my way upstream turning a few stones but when I reached the top pool there was a newt's head poking out from beneath a stone. I stared at it for a moment and then realised I had left my pocket camera in the car, I raced back and luckily the newt was still there when I returned. I took a few photos and went back to the car a very happy man, the Montseny Brook newt was a species I thought I would never see but there it was after a ten minute search.

Image013 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image021 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

I had seen the newt, no need to carry on looking and there was still a 2 hour drive to the next location so off I went, slowing down to avoid another pair of Boar at the roadside. I stopped enroute to photograph some Spiny Toads Bufo spinosus and a Midwife toad Alytes obstetricans and then finally arrived high on the plateau.
Image024 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image028 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

It was 05:30 and would soon be getting light so I heading off into the darkness trying to remember the location from google earth. I wandered around for a while in frustration before finally finding the ruins and then almost stepping into the pond, I walked slowly with my torch around the pond edge a few times finding nothing but a few dragonfly larvae. I was very disappointed with this so began to flip stones around the building but once again found nothing. I moved to the pond edge and beneath stones I found a few Parsley frogs Pelodytes punctatus, Midwife toads Alytes obstetricans and some Catalonian wall lizards Podarcis liolepis. I searched another nearby pond but once again found nothing so I walked to a nearby spring where a water trough gave a few Iberian water frogs Pelophylax perezi. I also found a pair of glasses here and when I tried them on my vision was crystal clear, this made me very happy until I took them off moments later and accidentally snapped them in half !
I walked around at sunrise admiring the views and began the return to the airport. Halfway down the hill I flipped a stone by the edge of a pond and found 2 Slow worms Anguis fragilis and a small Viperine snake Natrix maura

Image035 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image040 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

Image043 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3412 (2) by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3426 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3427 by Kevin Byrnes, on Flickr